Kallie Marie’s new EP, ‘Should Your Sun Set Before Mine’ is a collection of three deeply atmospheric instrumental tracks, all composed, performed, engineered and mixed by Kallie.
The three pieces are different in mood and feel, but they all pulse with the same dreamlike quality. Kallie masterfully crafts sparse soundscapes that take full possession of the available spatiality, with elements shifting from the left to right in a constant movement that brings the textures to life and engages the listener.
“Be Still” introduces plucked synthetic strings floating on top of tastefully layered beds of synths and pads, and darkly atmospheric cello samples, playing at the edge of dissonance, inducing an unsettling feeling, almost like being trapped in a dream that is disconcerting, but is not quite yet a nightmare.
“Under the Twilight” is build around an ostinato of ascending semitones, channeling Twin Peaks vibes. The piece progresses slowly, rewarding the patient listener with a subtle but satisfying chord change towards the end of the piece, just before the texture becomes stripped down, just like during a sunset the most beautiful colours show right before the darkness sets.
The last piece “On The Road Back” introduces a thumping beat set against another ostinato on electric piano, a symmetrical journey that starts with the piano notes, grows and develops, and ends in the same place.
The pieces are varied in terms of instrumentation, tempos and feel, but they converge to form a cohesive collection, through the compositional voice that is very much distinctive throughout the EP, and the excellent production. We were intrigued by the music, so we asked a few questions to find out more about Kallie and the inspiration and creative process behind this EP.
What inspired you to write this EP?
This trio of pieces is about the process of illness or injury (and that doesn’t have to just be of the physical kind), and about the road to recovery and healing. These three pieces came out of a unique place. A Patreon of mine was ill, and undergoing a series of diagnostic tests. I wrote the first piece for them, as something I hoped they could take with them on those days, having been there many times, alone, myself. The second piece is the treatment phase. Its disorienting, possibly frightening, and the shortest part. It is the time where you relinquish control of yourself to whomever is treating you, what ever that treatment is. The final piece is about recovery. It requires great patience, fortitude, and dedication to healing. Healing is its own journey, not without plateaus, frustrations, and the acceptance that time is part of the process of recovery. As the pandemic started last year, at this time, and I found myself wondering more and more about what collective injuries we had, and what healing we would each need, as individuals, and as a society- now torn by illness and loss, and how to find the road back to healing.
Any particular musical influences?
I am probably influenced by people like Max Richter, Aphex Twin, Michael Nyman, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, and Dead Can Dance when I am writing in this style. I have a lot of influences that people might not expect that are peppered into my work, which I have to sometimes reign in, or shut out, as it were. An influence for example like Tool, Bjork, or PJ Harvey, Nirvana, or Tori Amos. I am sure that they are all there though battling it out in my heart and head. Honestly though, and this is the truth, when I write I am seeing imagery, or feeling so deeply that am not really conscious of things like influences. Sometimes I have intense nightmares and those are more influential than my musical influences, or life in general influences what I end up channeling into the writing.
Can you tell us about your creative process?
The creative process for this EP (Should Your Sun Set Before Mine) specifically, not in general, was quite unusual. The first piece was started quite a while back. Maybe even two years, and once I was done with it, I thought ‘Oh, these need to be a trio’, because I had recently undergone my own health and healing processes, and it had really resonated with me. Of course I was busy working on other projects, producing Makes My Blood Dance, at the time I think, or maybe it was Mary and The Ram… and so I wasn’t writing as much consistently at that time. Then the pandemic hit, and after moving house mid pandemic I refocused, asked my Patreon supporters what pieces in progress they thought I should finish, and this was one of the ones that got voted. When I write I often come from a technical production perspective. I sit down and I create a sound really carve out my own patches, really a lot of music sound design work, and layer them instrument by instrument, and lay down part by part. So many times in the past I have tried to set up templates and it just doesn’t work for me. So there has to be this emotional vision, feelings and pictures in my head, and I build these sounds for myself to interact with. I have no idea if what I just said makes any sense!
You’re not just an amazing composer, but also a skilled producer and audio-engineer, and also an author. What is your favorite ‘hat’ to wear, and why?
Music is always going to be my focus and first choice. Always. I love producing/engineering as much as I enjoy composing. I couldn’t choose one over the other, and being informed about both helps be better at each in turn.
Are you still able to enjoy listening to music as a ‘regular’ person, or does your brain always dissect and analyze the musical elements and production?
Gosh, I don’t know if I know how to listen as a regular person. Music has always been something else for me. I find it very visceral, and I think that’s because I was formerly a ballet dancer, for the first half of my life. So even if I am trying to be a casual listener, I am still finding it hard to sit still and not interact with it. I can’t handle situations where there is live music playing while I am eating. It actually makes me anxious. Like, ‘Why am I eating when I might have to suddenly work!?” So no, I dont think I can shut that off. However, I will say this much, and its hard to imagine this world because of the past year of the pandemic, but going to see a band I love, does remove me a bit, especially if it was a band or artist I have never seen and always wanted to. Then I am just a fan. I still enjoy the music perhaps differently, but songs and things conjure so many memories and there’s that communal crowd experience. Similarly, if I am at a pub, bar, or club and I am socializing I might not be listening acutely, but I will also be VERY put off by music being too loud, or bad acoustics, or bad sound systems. I carry earplugs with me everywhere, filtered custom molded ones, because it will ruin the entire situation if I can’t escape it. I often wear earplugs in movie theaters because they are too loud. And there again – I spend a lot of time in movies being distracted by the music!
If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
That producers/engineers, artists, technicians, roadies, etc all of us be paid better, fairer, on time, with transparency, and given some sort of health care. The situation with the devaluation of music with streaming and streaming services is really hurting the industry. And no less important: producers, engineers, mixers, mastering engineers – we need our credits listed! We cant get more work if there are no credits. Imagine if films showed with no credits?? Everyone knows who the artists are, but no one knows who worked on the record, or where it was recorded, or mixed, or mastered? Those facilities won’t stay open if no one knows where to go! Artists please credit your technicians/team, and don’t try to list yourselves as producer because you did a few things at home in Logic or GarageBand. It’s really important to credit people fairly and properly. If we could change that, we’d have a start to fixing all the knock on affects of the above.
What is one achievement that you are very proud of?
This one is always tricky, because I am proud of most of my work, and I couldn’t pick a favorite project. A great experience I had recently was that MPath, the music library I am a composer with, won 2019’s ‘Best Overall Production Music Album’, at the Broadcast Production Awards, for their album ‘Phenomenal Women Vol. 6’ . I contributed a track called ‘After the Flood’. Its special to me because of what MPath have achieved with gender parity at their library, and it was my first contribution to their library, and my first award in the music industry.
What was the strangest or funniest thing that ever happened to you in the studio?
Oh there’s some stories… but what happens in the studio stays in the studio. I will share this much though: I once was hired to engineer a session at a small studio in the LES of NYC. I showed up to the session, this is later in the evening, and the artists were confused about who I was and kept asking the owner of the studio if I was there “to party”. The owner of the studio kept explaining that no, I was going to be their engineer. So I am overhearing all this from the control room while I am getting things ready. The flustered studio owner comes into the control room, shuts the door behind him and says, “They want to know if they can pay for the session in weed. They have two pillow cases full… and some champagne.” I told the studio owner, that I couldn’t pay my rent with that, and that no, they’d have to pay me with actual money, and also how the hell am I riding the subway home with pillow cases full of… NO. I must be paid with money please. So the session didn’t happen. Afterwards the studio owner apologized profusely and we went and sat on a bench and ate ice cream cones at about 11pm before parting ways and taking the subway home.
What advice would you give to someone at the beginning of their career in the music industry?
That’s a tough question because there are so many pathways in the music industry. It would really depend on what the person in front of me wanted to do in the music industry. In general, and I would say this to any creative person, or some one with an entrepreneurial heart, is that you have to be dedicated, self disciplined, and willing to sacrifice. You have to stay focused and ignore people around you who will try to shit on your goals because they cant fathom what you are doing. They only know being a worker bee. They turn up somewhere get a pay check and leave, and go home to their TV or Xbox. If you want that, this is the wrong life for you. If you know you don’t want that, then keep pushing ahead. Don’t be scared of the lean months because if you stick with it you will find your spirit and mind deeply rewarded and enriched. You may never be wealthy in the bank but you will have a life of wealth in friends, experiences, and contributing to the world around you, and if you are lucky you will create things of lasting relevance that will be your legacy, and will inspire and comfort others. If you are signing up for riches, or a lifestyle that seems fun, go do something else. Be ready to pivot, innovate, focus, and chip away at something everyone around you will tell you is hopeless. Lastly, and most importantly: there’s no room for egos, back stabbing, dishonesty or being mean. This isn’t a competitive sport. This is a community. Music is a neighborhood. BE KIND. Work hard.
Find out more about Kallie: